Think back to when you first started: What most frustrated you about starting out on Patreon?

Hey creator community! My name is Tal and I’m on the product team.

We’re going to be thinking a lot about how we can help new creators who are just starting out launch more successfully (aka more of their fans converting to patrons, and making more of an impact on their creative career), and thought to get this community’s input.

Okay here goes:

Think back to when you first started thinking seriously about starting your membership on Patreon. You heard about it, you had questions and uncertainties, you learned more, you signed up and built your tiers, and eventually you shared with your fans.

:exploding_head: What thoughts and feelings do you remember?

:triumph: What most frustrated you about setting up, learning what to do, and launching?

:relaxed: What action, person, or resource did you find helped you most?

(I’m sure there’s a lot here for all of you, if it helps respect your time, we’re most focused on listening to what it was like for you leading up to your launch.)


Before starting it I was thinking abotu doing something that helps me to pay my university loans.

When I started there wasn’t a Charge Upfront option, that was very frustrating for obvious reasons. I’m glad that i got that option when it started to appear for some users.

Before CUF, I got help from other creators. They teached me stuff to avoid giving rewards to people that used to false pledge.


Thank you!! Yeah, fellow creators is a valuable resource. How did you know those creators and who to ask?

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As an artist, It’s always good to watch and study other artists. I found them on art sites like Furaffinity, and followed their work as they were always mentioning their patreon pages with it, I followed them on Patreon too.


I remember that I quickly had to learn not to overly rely on Patreon for pretty much anything. Patreon itself mostly functions as a convenient way to process payments and bulking creator content for membership that encourages cross support for fans of niche genres.

I can do small things on Patreon, like polls and feedback posts and small tidbits of art, but early on I was trying to do too much strictly on Patreon, to focus on the people that support me on Patreon, through the site they support me on. Flooding peoples mailboxes with single pictures when I should have really been bulking them up for weekly distribution, but Patreon isn’t very good at this and your options are limited in how you present this work if you go this method.

Unfortunately as a digital artist who puts out a lot of content and works on large projects, Patreon is really inefficient at supporting the type of work I do. It’s also really inefficient at giving that content to my supporters in a lot of ways. For instance, as a fan of digital art, when I sub to a new person, I don’t even bother looking at their backlog. It’s impossible. Patreon loads single posts 10 at a time and some artists I follow have thousands of posts. That’s a ton of content, and on any other site it would be a huge benefit to subscribing to see it, but on Patreon, after paying to see someones work, it is more of a pain to view all of that content than it is fun to look at it.

I just have to hope that one day they package it all up into a zip file, or throw it onto a site that has gallery browsing features (where I can just click a next image and look at images).

I had to find alternatives to present my work like one-drive and alternative art galleries. You could build a website for this with patreon api integration, but you’ll need knowledge or resources to get that done, and it is an investment. These days I post my art in packages on One-Drive (which has a nice file/image browser built-in), then after a couple months I post all of the art publicly on sites that are much easier to browse and designed for showing art and video content.

Same goes for the game project I’m working on, Patreon has no project features at all for multi-user support. If you are running or part of a project you need to take into account that you will either have to share accounts, or maybe pledge to the project you are working on. In order to respond to user comments and offer support I have to pledge $25 to my own project every month so that I can see comments posted on the project I’m working on. I still don’t get notifications on this project, so I have to remember to check our latest posts to answer questions.

Most of our project development doesn’t involve patreon at all either, we don’t upload our game builds to patreon directly (file size not supported), we don’t communicate exclusively on Patreon (discord, telegram, and google document project files), and we have to advertise on other sites because Patreon cannot be the central operating point of whatever fandom you’re building.

Which leads me to my next point, you have to keep in mind when starting a Patreon is that you really need a prior fanbase. Patreon isn’t there to sell you, you have to sell yourself in another community first. You need to have something to offer people first. Patreon will not sell you or promote you, and if you make adult content they won’t even acknowledge you exist through the in-site navigation.

Putting a $5 Patreon up that only your grandma is subscribed to is going to discourage new people from pledging. Each person trickling in and seeing a dead campaign. I would say it’s more damaging to have a dead campaign than it is to have no campaign. Whether it’s true or not, it signals that something about your campaign is wrong, and no one else has found it worth it to support you. Building something, and then starting big encourages people to jump in on the project.

I know when I go to a new campaign and I see $1k+ or 200+ supporters, I know there is probably something wroth subscribing to here, and when I see numbers hovering lower than $100, I wonder if the person is new or if the campaign was abandoned and just functions as an elaborate tip-jar.

I guess my overall advice would be that if you aren’t a success without Patreon, Patreon probably won’t change that. They’re an elaborate mailing list/paypal subscription, things you could setup yourself if you had a reason to. That isn’t saying much for Patreon I suppose, but it’s an area they could improve.

Some personal/emotional thoughts on starting up, I realized that people are largely supporting you for a combination of reasons, but your strongest supporters are usually doing it because they like you as a personality. A combination of the things you do and who you are, and not just for the content you make. Those supporters are your strongest ones and they’ll be with you through most obstacles.

If you are short one small community reward every month, they’ll forgive it. If you aren’t feeling the way you do content or the stress involved with a reward you offer, they’ll understand. If you disaster strikes and you can’t do something they are usually more than willing to forgive if you are open an honest about why and what your plans are.

It’s not something you should take advantage of, but it’s something you should remember when you are doing something small that you are worried will make your supporters turn on you.

And speaking as someone who supports a lot of people and has a lot of supporters, most people won’t personally get upset if you miss some small things. They don’t notice the small things because they have their own lives to worry about and as long as you don’t make a habit out of missing things, they’ll understand you’re human.

If you need to alter a campaign to keep up, drop tiers, change rewards - all of those are not just fine to do, they are expected from people in the long run. Part of building a campaign is learning from it and making adjustments, that’s how any successful project/business/person makes it to the end. Don’t be scared to shake things up, and in my experience, embrace it. Changing things up isn’t just more interesting as a creator, but it can be fun for your supporters as well.


Wow! What a response. I’m going piece by piece and sharing specific parts with my team. Thank you for spelling out all the ups and downs and frustrations and realizations - and the advice to new creators - so important for the product to make a lot of those points inherently clearer.

Thank you!!

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For me the biggest road bump was understanding paid posts and the billing cycle. So, after my first paid post on the first of the month which turned out not to bill until the next month I sent out all my rewards on faith. Thankfully my community is strong and honest. It just seemed no matter how much I asked it just didn’t make sense. I’ve been able to help friends ever since explaining when to make a paid post that was to be monthly (the last day of the month.) Now when that cutoff time is I’m still not sure so I have mine posted between 10am and 1pm.


Thank you @aaronmiller - that’s definitely not something we explain very well in the product for people who choose to be per-post.

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For me not being able to be found. It’s still that way now - the big fish get plenty of advertising in the discover pages, but not so much for smaller creators. It would be great if someone could type in ‘art’ into the search bar and all art based creators came up in that. At the moment it only seems to show a limited number of people.


I agree – it was the disappointment at realizing there was no way or finding or being found by like-minded people, or of building a site-native audience.

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Yeah whilst I understand that it’s up to us to get the word out about our ‘thing’, it is also important that people can come to Patreon and search for people they might like. Just like Kickstarter does. I’ve run two kickstarters now and people can search for projects on there easily (although actually recently they’ve changed how that happens and it has impacted how many people find me this second time which was very annoying - why change something if it already works right?). With kickstarter you HAVE to promote your project before launch or nobody will find it easily anyway, but they also have the in site option for searching too. Makes much more sense! I’m repeating myself now… lol

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I’m new to Patreon, and the most frustrating thing for me is figuring out rewards people would want to pay for and aren’t a time suck.

I’m coming at my Patreon account in the spirit of experimentation. I launched my page early, and I thought I’d just keep tweaking it until something clicked. I try to visit Patreon U and the forums on a regular basis, and I learn something new each time. Then I update my page to reflect the lesson I learned. I’m taking my time with it.

Something I’ve been seeing a lot lately is the conviction that you need an outside platform to run a successful Patreon account. Or you need to already have a fan base. That may be true. But as a no name creator, I’d like to see what Patreon’s possibilities are before I accept it as fact.

The biggest risk is lost time and effort. But every failure has lessons embedded within it, and Gallifrey wasn’t built in a day.

I’m trying to build multiple revenue streams, and Patreon seems like a viable option. It’s stated goals are in line with my values, and it seems to have helped a lot of folks.

My frustrations involve the limitations of the social media system. It does seem, as a previous poster said, that people follow creators for the most part because they like the creator’s personality. The work the creator is doing seems almost secondary sometimes. But that might be a misconception on my part.

I’m a writer, and being an extroverted personality isn’t my strong suit. I started writing to compensate for poor verbal communication skills, not because I’m an eloquent speaker. I find the thought of producing videos terrifying and exhausting.

But I’m willing to put in the work if that’s what’s necessary to be successful. It would probably do me some good in spite of the challenge it presents.

But before I do put that work in, I’d like to see if an unknown creator can get patrons based on the work itself rather than on personality.

Perhaps I can do a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for an ad campaign to let folks know about my Patreon page. Haha!

Maybe I need to research basic marketing techniques and apply them to the Patreon account. Then I can do a low cost or free ad campaign using various social media accounts.

Maybe I need to gain confidence, get over my fear of social media and figure out a way to use it that is rewarding, easy, fun for a introverted person with mild autism.

Or maybe I need to switch projects and go in a different direction.

Time will tell.

It’d be nice if there were tutorials for people with technophobia, writers block, and/or creators with little or no knowledge of Internet culture. Maybe there is and I haven’t just looked. If you can point me in the right direction, I’d be much obliged.

Anyway, those are my reflections on the frustrating aspects starting out on Patreon.


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Thank you for all the thoughts on this post! I’ve loved reading them and getting an insight into that time.

You said…

Maybe I need to research basic marketing techniques and apply them to the Patreon account. Then I can do a low cost or free ad campaign using various social media accounts.

We recently launched Patreon U, which designed to give some basic info and knowledge about running a Patreon. Take a look and let me know if that’s helpful or if you have specific areas I can provide some guidance on.

It’d be nice if there were tutorials for people with technophobia, writers block, and/or creators with little or no knowledge of Internet culture. Maybe there is and I haven’t just looked. If you can point me in the right direction, I’d be much obliged.

I like looking up writing prompts or browsing Pinterest for inspiration, I can normally find something in there that works! What kind of internet culture are you looking for? Know Your Meme has a great database of trending memes and GIFs but that might not be what you meant :slight_smile:

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This is more a personal experience, not an issue with Patreon itself per se, but probably the most frustrating thing when starting out on Patreon was not really knowing my “worth” as a creator. I think when I started, I only had about 600ish subs on my youtube channel, so when it came to tiers, pricing and rewards, I picked things that seemed reasonable for what I expected was going to be the engagement. But as the channel had grown, I realized that I had really undervalued my time.

This was really an issue because I function as a ‘per-post’ creator who makes the majority of my earnings off of Patreon currently. When the channel was small (well, smaller, I’m still a small fry), it wasn’t a big issue. As I got bigger, I found that the more time I was spending on fulfilling rewards (most of which weren’t being engaged with), the less I was actually able to make regarding content, which was early on was the only thing that was driving people to the channel and subsequentially, the Patreon.

It was frustrating because I always genuinely felt bad having to take back some of the initially promised rewards and tiers just because it takes too much time or was something I’m not really comfortable with. Even now there are a few rewards and tiers that I wish to restructure, but there really isn’t an easy way to ‘grandfather’ patrons into.

Again, this is more of a hindsight issue than it is a problem with the service, but is something that I’ve noticed that I think a lot of people new to Patreon can easy fall into and might later be frustrated with.


Yeah, I don’t know how many times this has been asked, begged, or pleaded to be the case.

In their recent survey, and proposed changes, you’ll have to pay monthly to be ‘Discoverable’, or choose a more expensive option (ie. Patreon gets a bigger cut of your income) to have your page actually be searchable. These were options that we had, and were asked to choose which ones were most appealing.

After looking at the survey and what the intention seems to be, is that if you want Patreon to help you build an audience, or if you even want to be discoverable on the platform, it will cost you.

All the platform does at the moment is make the big fish fatter. And then the plan seems to be to charge the small fry from their smaller incomes to rub elbows with the ‘Front-Pagers’.


Yeah it does feel that way. Kickstarter still make it possible for anyone to be searched although their search ability has changed massively since last year (i’ve done a KS this and last year) and so the reach is hugely stunted because of that.
With Patreon I don’t think they need to monetise everything since surely they are making a decent wage from what they are already monetising? I’ve lost the biggest group of patrons ever this month in one go and it’s just a reminder to me that I can’t rely on Patreon as a sole income at all and that I need to work on building my online sales of prints and originals too to supplement my income too. It’s so exhausting being a solo creator!


The search function on a cell and with an app is downgraded for Kickstarter.
But, on the PC it has remained the same, and I am still able to easily find small, and indy projects all the time.

As for relying on Patreon for a sole income? Yeah, when you’re a small, independent creator without a massive following for whatever reason, there’s really not much point in trying to monetize it.

What I have been finding though is that there is a ‘Lemming Effect’ once you reach a certain threshold of Patrons/income, and it just seems to waterfall after that. It’s getting to that point that’s really tough, and a lack of any sort of search function on Patreon doesn’t help any.
I figured since Patreon was all about helping creators and artists make money, they’d want as many folks as possible to maximize their income.

As is becoming more and more evident, Patreon is more about assisting those that are already popular due to the fact that increasing an already large income with a popular creator is easier than trying to promote the guy who only makes a few hundred bucks a month. This is especially true when Patreon itself has to do zero work to monetize creators.
I have to do all the leg work of building an audience, creating content, and attracting people to the platform, and what does Patreon do? Make money off of the backs of struggling artists.

It becomes much easier to cash in on the ‘Lemming Effect’ when some one already has a large following. In the end, Patreon is about turning a profit, just like any other business.

Their tag line of ‘Helping Creators Get Paid’ is PR-speak more than anything.

All Patreon is wanting to do is cash in on all our hard work, when in actuality, all they do is provide a place for people to pay with their CC. It’s this that’s making me want to create my own website for monetary support, as I’ve been at a plateau for over a year with zero growth, despite me spamming social media and doing all I can to get the word out.

Having the place where my content makes money, do nothing for me in return, except allow me to process payments is becoming less and less valuable every day. This is especially true when I look at how much my YT income is growing every month. My Patreon growth is pathetic by comparison…and YT doesn’t charge me over 12% of my income for payment processing.

I sound a bit jaded, and perhaps I am. But I’m reaching a breaking point here, and creating content for so little reward for years of my life is making it really really difficult to continue. Even more-so when Patreon doesn’t really help any in bringing more people to the platform, and its’ creators.


I’m curious and I don’t mean this in a contentious way, but is it Patreon’s job to get you more growth?

I have viewed Patreon as only a way to get support from people on my YouTube channel. Patreon provides a service of making it easy for me to handle everything in terms of rewards, communication with supporters, and probably the most important aspect of handling payments. That’s all I’ve expected from Patreon and any feature on top of that is added benefit. Plus, people are more likely to trust Patreon over an individual or non-sourced site.

I mean, remember that YouTube isn’t taking 12% of your income, it’s effectively taking 40% of it with ad revenue. That’s if allows you to monetize it at all.

Like trust me, I get it, it’s extremely frustrating. Looking at your channel (which the video I saw was good, by the way!), we’re about the same size, and my patreon has been in a slump as well. But I personally think even if Patreon put me on the front page for a month I wouldn’t see any change, let alone allow people to search for me. I can’t imagine there are very many people who see a Patreon on the front page and say “I feel like giving a dollar to them!” If most people are searching, it’s because they are looking for you directly for a purpose, and then all that social media spam provides them with a link.

I feel like Patreon charging for ad space is fair, even if only the ‘big fish’ are going to get it. Just like how you can pay YouTube to run a channel trailer as an ad. Or twitter to promote your tweets. It sucks, but I think the problem is a lot bigger than that.

However, I totally agree that if you feel like Patreon is taking to much, you have every right to do it yourself. I provide my viewers several ways to support me that isn’t just Patreon.